Thursday, September 25, 2008

Exitfare Favorites: The Libertines "Up the Bracket"

Editor's Note: Back in January, I had intended this to be a regular series, but after I did a post on The Verve's Urban Hymns, I let this column go. I've tried a number of new things on the site over the years, but one reason I really want this one to stick is so I do not lose focus on the great albums from the past. The focus of Exitfare has always been on the new and cutting-edge music, and increasingly so on unsigned groups, but there will always be a place here for the classics.

All four of the individual talents in the Libertines have always been overshadowed by drama of Pete Doherty's life. Doherty is a great songwriter, one of the best of this generation, but as a human he is a mess. If he died tonight in his sleep, I would not be surprised. It would be a shocking and sad end to a great talent, but like many musicians who have had the world at their feet, they allow it to slip away.

I feel bad for Carl Barat, an equally as talented songwriter in his own right, whose contributions were often overshadowed by the cult of Doherty. The important thing to remember is that this album or the band was never just Doherty's deal -- it was as much (and moreso towards the end) Barat.

I first latched onto the Libertines in very late '01, between semesters while I was in college. Before blogs were really the norm, I paged through the NME every week only to spend hours in record stores looking for the bands I wanted to hear, usually in vain. I finally tracked down a pricey import single from these guys at Tower.

"Time For Heroes"

Up the Bracket is the first great album to come out of the new millennium, a record that was borne out of the so-called garage rock revival, yet one that transcended the scene with songs that stood on their own. There may have been plenty of tabloid-worthy stories to overshadow the music, but at least in England, people knew the music first and then the scandals. Unfortunately it's the other way around here in the States.

The music resonates because the music is instantly recognizable, a sort of slightly-polished shambolic garage rock, like the Kinks for the 21st century. Beginning with "Vertigo," the Libs take us through an album that may look at British life satirically, but it's their life and they love it nonetheless.

"Up the Bracket"

The trio of songs starting with "Horrorshow" show a band that is confident beyond their years, easily penning songs which frankly tell their story, one that wasn't tailored for consumption. This is no more apparent then on "Time For Heroes," a genius mix of love and angst that recalls the patriotism of Billy Bragg.

Great music is never just about the music -- it's about the people, society, and where you come from, and it's this mix that makes Up the Bracket truly great.

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Anonymous Jam said...

I agree with what you've said, that Pete's notoriety often overshadows the rest of the band. With this in mind, perhaps you could've also noted that Carl Barat co-wrote the album Up The Bracket, instead of implying that Pete wrote it by his lonesome.

10:30 PM EDT  
Blogger Dany said...

you're right to point that out and thanks for doing that -- i actually neglected to put up the entire post

12:33 AM EDT  

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